ALGIERS- In an interview with the French weekly news magazine “Le Point”, the President of the Republic, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, addressed several national and international issues, including relations between Algeria and France, tensions with Morocco, the reopening of borders, legislative elections, the Hirak …among others.
“The opening or closing of borders is dictated by the Scientific Council, depending on the evolution of the pandemic. If we have closed the borders, it is not to sanction the population, but to protect them. Algeria was the first country to impose tests in its airports, to close nurseries, schools, mosques, to ban the public in stadiums… ”, explained President Tebboune, who answered questions from the journalists Kamel Daoud and Adlène Meddi.
“Today we have around 200 cases per day, while more developed countries have 20,000 or even 30,000 cases per day. But the virus is there, and at any time the numbers can go up. If that happens, the Algerians will blame us for the reopening of the borders. And if the situation deteriorates, we will close, ”he explained, adding:“ Even with the borders closed, we have repatriated up to 80,000 Algerians at the state expense. No country has done this. ”
Second presidential term:
Asked about his candidacy for a second presidential term, President Tebboune said that he does not think about that, stressing that his mission is to “enable the country to stand again, rebuild institutions and make the republic the property of all”, before going on to say that his first term is still in its beginning.
legislative elections of June 12 and opposition:
Regarding the legislative elections of June 12, President Tebboune said: “What I observe across the country does not say that the Algerians, in their majority, are opposed to the legislative elections. “You tell me the opposition’: how many are there? In view of the measuring instruments at our disposal, this is a minority which presents itself as a majority thanks to excessive media coverage, especially overseas. Some ambassadors, unfortunately, only see this minority and live only with it, and ignore the majority of Algerians…
“If we did not have such a modern and professional army, the situation in Algeria would be worse than in Libya”:
The President of the Republic also voiced on the role of the army. According to him: “The weight of the army is a positive reality. “If we didn’t have such a modern and professional army, the situation in Algeria would be worse than in Libya or Syria. I recall that the army has withdrawn from politics since the end of the 1980s. The days when army officers sat on the central committee of the FLN (former single party) are over. The army is no longer in politics, “he explained.
“During the Hirak, some, including those who claim to be Democrats, called on the military to intervene. It refused, preferring to protect the pacifism of the movement, “said President Tebboune, adding:” If it had wanted to take power, it would have done so. It was a popular demand, the people calling for an end to the comedy of the fifth term and the decay of the state. The army has not taken power and will not take it, because it is legalistic. ”
In addition, President Tebboune denied having been the candidate of a party in the presidential elections of December 2019. “I was not the candidate of a party, but that of the people and the youth, two pillars on which I count a lot, ”he pointed out .
“Political Islam does not bother me, because it is not above the laws of the Republic”:
Mr. Tebboune said that when he came to power after the presidential elections in December 2019, Algeria was “on the brink. “” Fortunately there was the popular burst, the authentic and blessed Hirak of February 22, 2019, which made it possible to stop the decay of the state by ruling the fifth term down, which would have enabled the ‘issaba’ [the “Gang”, conglomerate of oligarchs and senior officials, Editor’s note], this small group which has swallowed up the power and even the prerogatives of the former president by acting in his name, to manage the country, “he said.
Referring to Islamism, President Tebboune said: “Islamism as an ideology, the one that tried to impose itself in the early 1990s in our country, will never exist again in Algeria. Now, has political Islam blocked the development of countries like Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt? No. This political Islam does not bother me, because it is not above the laws of the Republic, “.
On the decision to classify the Rachad movement and the MAK as terrorist organizations, he replied: “because they have declared themselves to be such. Rachad began to mobilize in all directions, giving instructions to confront the security services and the army. MAK attempted to deal with car bombs. Faced with calls for violence, patience has limits ”.
Questioned about the wave of arrests of demonstrators, President Tebboune replied: “Following the presidential election, up to 20,000 to 25,000 demonstrators across the country took to the streets, I was the first to reach out to the people of Hirak and to receive them. In my first government, there were five ministers who came from it. People I had seen insulting me in videos! ”
Recalling that “then, we started to release detainees to reach 120 ones,” before adding: “People continued to criticize me, but I continued to granting them their demands. I feel like this was interpreted as a weakness. People thought we were weak . They were wrong ”.
Explaining that “the protester and the policeman who maintains public order are the sons of the same Republic,” he said: “I have no right to let them clash. However, nowadays, calls for violence are emerging .
Hirak: “I don’t use that word anymore”:
“I don’t use that word (Hirak) anymore because things have changed. The only Hirak I believe in is the authentic and blessed Hirak who spontaneously gathered millions of Algerians in the streets. This Hirak chose the path of reason by going to the presidential election. It did not listen to the siren song which urged it to move towards a transitional period, and ten million Algerians went to vote. A minority refused the election. I think that every Algerian has the right to express himself, but I refuse the diktat of a minority “, declared President Tebboune.
According to him, “Today, in what remains of Hirak, we find everything, there are some who shout ‘Islamic State! “And others who chant” no Islam! “. The protesters may be expressing anger, but this is not the original Hirak. It’s very motley. ”
Asked about the case of the journalist and correspondent of the daily Liberté, Rabah Karèche, placed under arrest warrant in Tamanrasset prison, President Tebboune had a very brief response. “He erroneously played arsonist on a very sensitive subject. Very serious, ”he said.
Algerians waiting for total recognition of all crimes perpetrated by colonial France:
President Tebboune affirmed that the Algerians are waiting for a “total recognition of all crimes” perpetrated by the colonial France, pointing out that the fact of recognizing its crimes is a form of repentance.
“The Algerians are waiting for a total recognition of all the crimes” perpetrated by the colonial France, said President Tebboune in an interview granted to the French paper Le Point, underlining that Algeria had three painful phases during the colonization history.
He cited the “beginning of the colonization, with the extermination, for 40 years, of entire tribes, and decimation of whole villages.”
There were then the period of spoliation, where the land was confiscated from the Algerians to be distributed to the Europeans.”
He also cited “the horrors of 8 May 1945 with 45,000 deaths and finally the liberation war when the Algerians took up arms to free their country.”
President Tebboune said that “all this doesn’t concern the generation of President Macron, and doesn’t also concern some French intellectuals, who are irreproachable,” underlining that “recognizing these facts is important.”
“Why is it thought to be important to recognize crimes committed against the Armenians and Jews and we ignore what happened in Algeria?,” he wondered.
“We want a peaceful and recognized memory,” he stressed, insisting on the fact that “It is the colonial France that we are judging and not Voltaire’s France or the enlightenment France.”
In his reply to a question on his insistence on the recognition rather that repentance, President Tebooune said “recognition is a form of repentance.”
Relations with Morocco:
As long as relations with Morocco are concerned, the President of the Republic recalled: We have to differentiate between the monarchy, and the Moroccan people. ” The Moroccan monarchy has always been the aggressor. We will never attack our neighbor. We will retaliate if we are attacked. But I doubt Morocco will try it given the balance of power “, declared the President.
On a question about opening the land border with Morocco, President Tebboune responded in a firm and assertive language, stressing that “it is not possible to open the border with a neighbor which provokes you and attacks you on a daily basis.”
The President of the Republic reiterated Algeria’s position towards the Palestinian issue and the path of some Arab countries in normalization with the state of the Zionist entity, stating that “every country is free, but Algeria will never normalize ties with the Zionist entity.”